Canine Tip of the Day: Split Tail Tip
If you have a breed with a lovely long, waggy tail, you may well have encountered the nightmare that is a split tail tip. Usually, as a result of some seriously exuberent wagging, the tail may come into contact with a stationary object such as the door frame or wall and when “thwacked” with great force, a split can appear in the tip which then bleeds and showers the walls and ceiling with gory red spatter … all that red spray often looks worse than it is, as if an axe murderer has rampaged through your house! So, what should you do?
Once again we need to re-visit the ‘SEEP’ technique that I’ve mentioned so many times before in other blogs ie, Sitting or lying the dog down, Examining it so we know what is going on, Elevating it (for a short time just holding it up should suffice) and finally putting Pressure on it with a wound dressing to stop the bleed.
Again, after around 5 minutes, the tip should have begun to clot but this wound will need protecting for some time to prevent it opening up every time they wag and show their affection to you. Fold a wound dressing around the tip of the tail and hold it in place right from the tip to a fair way up the length of the tail with a strip of vet-wrap to cushion the tip of the tail. The vet-wrap will need to go a good distance up the tail to prevent the dressing flying off with each and every swish of the tail. Keeping the dressing on can be quite a challenge and if your furry pal is making this tricky, see our blog on preventing them licking wounds and picking stitches which, hopefully, may help you get around this problem: http://rhodes-2-safety.co.uk/?p=1663
Keeping the skin as healthy as possible is the quickest way to get it to heal. A tried and tested method to help the skin remain healthy was sent to me from Yvonne Bowker … a Ridgeback owner of many years’ standing and with a lot of experience in treating split tail tips. Yvonne’s “insider info” is as follows:
1) Wash the affected area and gently clean off any scabby bits with warm salted water.
2) Dry thoroughly.
3) Use Udder Cream or Bag Balm, (available from farm/equine supply stores)
4) Gently massage cream onto affected area
5) Cover with sterile gauze or cotton
6) Wrap from tip to root of tail with Vet Wrap, moulding to the shape of the tail
7) Change 2 x per day and treat as above
After a couple of days, the wound should have begun to heal quite nicely but there is still the very real risk of it re-opening with each wag. A good method to try is to insert the tip of the tail into a tube just wide enough so that it’s not quite touching the tail too much (something like a couple of inches of foam pipe lagging/insulation from a DIY store, or the shaft of a plastic syringe for example for smaller breeds) or better yet, a foam hair roller.
The important thing is that whatever tube you choose, it should have an open end rather than being completely sealed. We want the air to be able to circulate around the tip of the tail to help it heal and so making sure there is a hole at the end will allow it to breathe as well as protect it from further wagging incidents.
Remember to fasten the tube securely with some adhesive tape – and be ready to experience many bruises as Sir Wag-a-lot bashes your legs with his new weapon.
If the tail refuses to heal, you can of course opt for a veterinary glue to “stick” the wound together. There are several on the market that are recommended for veterinary use only. The monomeric formulation forms a thin, waterproof adhesion to bond/seal tissue in a variety of injuries. This type of glue is ideal for skin closure, sealing broken nails and generally used as a “quick fix”.
Please DO NOT use regular super glue that you can just pick up on the high street. These types of glues work with an exothermic reaction which basically means they give out heat as they stick – enough heat in fact to burn the tissues of the tail. This is why we recommend only the appropriate veterinary grade versions.